Too many marketers are pretending the real world isn’t a real opportunity just because it’s harder to track than the digital world.
Wanting to measure everything is admirable. It speaks to a desire to be responsible and accountable, both virtues of effective marketers. That said, too many marketers today have bought into the false notion that everything must be measured. The trouble with that is so many of the things that make great marketing simply can’t be measured — at least not precisely — and insisting on measurability above all else means that we forego tactics and initiatives that have the potential to drive meaningful impact.
Put another way, our yearning to concretely measure all marketing activities leads us to do less effective things just because they’re more measurable.
While responsibility and accountability are indeed hallmarks of great marketers, the quality that truly sets the best apart is judgment: the ability to strike a balance between what data tells us and what intuition and common sense tell us.
One prime example of this tricky balancing act is the current state of influencer marketing. Intuitively, we all know that there are people out there who influence purchase decisions. We know this because we’ve experienced it. We also know that influence stems from trust and that there are different kinds of influence: the kind that influences how we live (driven by inspiration) and the kind that influences what we buy (driven by advice). In high school, we wanted to dress and act like the cool kids – that’s the power of inspiration as influence. As grownups, we rely on the advice of experts to decide what bike, router and moisturizer to buy – that’s the power of advice as influence.
Both kinds of influence — inspiration and advice — are becoming increasingly important because the market is becoming saturated with more and more product choices, more and more competing voices telling us what to buy, and more and more advertising noise. All of this overstimulation means that influencers fill an increasingly powerful and valuable role in the modern buying journey.
On the inspiration side, when we find someone who is a credible style icon, their choices can represent for us a shortcut to finding products that help us get closer to the kind of lifestyle that we’re trying to pursue. I experience this every time I see an Instagram post from one of the many bearded backcountry explorers I follow. My wife experiences it every time she flips through the pages of the latest issue of Architectural Digest. We each have a sense of personal style, and we’ve identified reliable sources of inspiration to help keep us pointed toward that style’s true north.
On the advice side, we’ve all experienced the joy of buying something that perfectly fits our needs, but we’ve also experienced the frustration of either struggling to figure out which product suits our individual use case or, worse yet, buying the wrong product altogether. The difference between a successful buying journey and a failed one is increasingly the availability and reliability of people whose advice we can trust to help us match a product to our needs. Brands and retailers that activate knowledgeable salespeople, relatable product users and credible subject matter experts throughout the buying journey will see more loyalty and advocacy emerge from the bottom of the marketing funnel.